Schools not equipped for these students
I had mixed emotions while reading the article on mentally ill students in schools (“Mentally troubled overwhelm schools,” July 21). I’m happy that this issue is finally front-page news, but sad that we are still having this conversation.
I was a teacher in an adolescent mental health treatment facility for 32 years. One by one, facilities like ours closed their doors, because they could no longer afford to continue providing services. Eventually, we closed as well, and we scrambled to find places for our clients. As predicted, there were no more places for these troubled kids to go.
Schools are not equipped to handle mentally ill students, nor should they be responsible for providing these services. Insurance companies, as well as the state and federal government, need to step up and fully fund these services. We, as a society, seem to continually make drastic cuts, suffer the consequences, wring our hands, then try to reinvent the wheel. Minnesota used to be a leader in the care and treatment of the mentally ill. We need to return to that model before another generation is left with little help and no hope.
BONNIE JUDE, Brooklyn Center
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It’s absurd. I didn’t go to a school district to treat my abscessed tooth or my cancer. Mental illness is a sickness and needs to be treated as such in an appropriate environment by experts. Until we deal with mental issues as we would other sicknesses, those afflicted will never be appropriately served, and society will suffer. Education standards and achievement will continue to decline as available dollars are redistributed. Schools cannot be all things to all people, and districts need to get over the notion that they should try. They need to refocus on the primary mission of public education in America and then deliver.
BERTEIL MAHONEY, Wayzata
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It’s time for state to address issues
I agree with Jason Lewis’ concerns about the failure of the “war on drugs” as it pertains to marijuana (“Next up on the social agenda: Marijuana,” July 21). If legalization and the attendant regulation ever took effect in Minnesota, it could be done with provisions for a significant part of the money going toward prevention and treatment of drug addiction. It seems that we really cannot afford to pass up the huge tax revenues that would be available — as well as the savings to the criminal-justice system, not to mention the human consequences — by continuing to do business as usual.
RICHARD SWERDLICK, Apple Valley
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As one who spent more than 20 years in law enforcement fighting the “drug war,” I can attest to its absurd, futile and tragic nature. Tragic, in that many wonderful youngsters are irrevocably harmed by our reactionary punishment of recreational marijuana use. We’ll never know how many people missed out on well-deserved careers, fell into severe depression or harmed themselves because of the impact of a minor infraction of experimenting with an innocuous drug. Further, as noted in the commentary, prescription drugs kill far more people than do cocaine and heroin combined.
THOMAS EVANS, Bemidji, Minn.
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